Nāz.

How have I never come across vājabāz (“musings on Persianate vocabulary”) before? Talk about LH material! It makes me want to resume my long-interrupted study of Persian. Take, for example, the entry ناز / nāz:

For a long time, I have been wondering how to define ‘Persianate’ cultural traits. If there is a distinct culture that has come to be known conveniently in academia as ‘Persianate’, how do we describe it? How do we define the Homo Persicus? As any effort of definition inevitably results in generalisation, the best way to explain ‘Persianate’ culture is through concrete cultural examples, such as the celebration of Nawrōz, self-deprecation as expression of (fake or genuine) politeness, love for banqueting and feasting followed by music, and so on and so forth. None of these, however, are as human and endearing as the word ناز/nāz, a social code that covers a range of behaviours in inter-personal relations.

‘Coquetry’, a word of French origin and the most common translation of ناز/nāz in English, is inexact in that it infuses the love game it represents with too much proactive flirtatiousness, whereas ناز/nāz does not have to be a proactive thing, nor does it have to be confined in love games; ‘affectation/affected airs’, an alternative translation, assumes too much deliberateness, interpreting the behaviour as an ‘act’ and therefore missing the point of ناز/nāz entirely, not to mention carrying a negative undertone as well. ‘Lackadaisical’ is a lovely translation, but too clumsy for the register of daily speech, and ناز/nāz is a word used in all registers. […]

The origin of ناز/nāz is mysterious, as no Indo-European etymology has been found (Cheung 2007). The earliest form we can trace it back to was also *nāz, which was present in the lexica of all Middle Iranian dialects across the Iranian cultural sphere comprising today’s Iran, Afghanistan, and Central Asia, under different attested forms, independent or as a part of a compound, and with more or less the same combination of meanings. Among the meanings that Cheung (2007) gives for the verbal root *nāz-, we see, from an Anglophone point of view, faintly connected ones such as ‘to take pleasure in’, ‘to be proud’, ‘to be delicate’, ‘to triumph’, and the verbal noun nāzišn in Middle Persian is explained as both ‘boasting’ and ‘kindness’. This is exactly what ناز/nāz is – complex, ineffable, yet mundanely tangible.

The New Persian ناز/nāz is present in all Persianate languages, an ancient Iranian lexical and cultural heritage from Azerbaijan to Khotan, from Otrar to Delhi. However, the frequency of its daily, common use differs from language to language. The highest frequency, in my experience, is among speakers of Iranian languages and Persianate Turkic languages, who readily use the word to describe the behaviour it designates, and it is in these languages that verb collocations/derived verbs exist in common use, for example, ناز کردن/nāz kardan ‘to do nāz‘ (more of a temporally and spatially specific act) or ناز داشتن/nāz dāštan ‘to have nāz‘ (more of a general behavioural trait) in Persian, ناز کردن/naz kirdin ‘to do nāz’ in Sorani Kurdish, naz et– ‘to do nāz’ in Azerbaijani, noz qil– ‘to do nāz’ in Uzbek, and نازلان-/nazlan– ‘to act with nāz’ in Uyghur. Other Persianate languages may have the word ناز/nāz, but it belongs to an older or more literary parlance and contemporary speakers may not be universally aware of it or use it in everyday life, preferring to paraphrase it, as it is in the case of modern standard Turkish and Urdu. In these languages, however, even though ناز/nāz may not be used frequently as an independent word, its derivations have more currency than itself, such as nazlı ‘having/with nāz‘ in modern standard Turkish, and نازک/nāzuk ‘delicate’ in almost all Persianate languages.

Languages that have long been in contact with Persianate culture, especially Greek, Armenian, and Georgian, have picked up bits and pieces of ناز/nāz themselves. The Greeks have νάζι/nazi (collocates usually in the plural, νάζια/názia, with verb κάνω/káno ‘to do’) as a colloquial term to describe the exact same phenomenon, although having a much more negative implication, as it emphasises on the ‘affectation’ aspect of ناز/nāz and even describes the mischiefs of spoiled children acting up when things goes against their will. The Armenian understanding of ناز/nāz is closer to its meaning and implications in Persian, whereas in Georgian, under the form of ნაზი/nazi, the meaning of ‘delicate, soft, tender’ takes precedence.

Isn’t that great? I have to stop myself from quoting the whole thing, and there’s lots more where that came from. (For more on Persian as a lingua franca, see this 2013 post.) Thanks, Trevor!

Comments

  1. I still don’t know what ناز / nāz means.

  2. PlasticPaddy says:

    https://en.m.wiktionary.org/wiki/%D5%B6%D5%A1%D5%A6
    When in doubt, go with the Armenians!

  3. Hmmm… sounds like Bollywood…

  4. What Bathrobe said, haha. I’ve never been able to get a Turkish speaker to successfully convey the meaning of nazlı (a common adjective and girl’s name) to me.

  5. ə de vivre says:

    Huh, must be the same “naz” in “Gel Ey Denizin Nazlı Kızı,” a “Turkish” song by the very Turkishly named Aleko Bacanos…

  6. In Bosnian, from Persian through Ottoman Turkish:
    – nazli (indeclinable adjective): charming, graceful, coquettish
    – nazić: refined, gentle, beautiful.
    – nazićane: elegant, refined.
    Also in female names: Nazića, Naza.

  7. J.W. Brewer says:

    The now-archaic jazz/hipster slang term “Nazz” (popularized by Lord Buckley) is presumably a “false friend” with unrelated etymology.

  8. Stu Clayton says:

    This is exactly what ناز/nāz is – complex, ineffable, yet mundanely tangible.

    Surely this is the exoticism often decried here on the subject of “untranslatable words”, such as the banal Gemütlichkeit. Quite apart from whether such words are complex and ineffable, the discussions of them always are. Therein lies the appeal of complex and ineffable words – there’s always something more to be said about them by whoever walks in the door.

    The immediately preceding sentence is

    Among the meanings that Cheung (2007) gives for the verbal root *nāz-, we see, from an Anglophone point of view, faintly connected ones such as ‘to take pleasure in’, ‘to be proud’, ‘to be delicate’, ‘to triumph’, and the verbal noun nāzišn in Middle Persian is explained as both ‘boasting’ and ‘kindness’.

    “To be delicate”, “to triumph”, “boasting”, “kindness” ….. gimme a break ! And the insertion of “from an Anglophone point of view” is absolutely delicious. It marks the thoughtful self-awareness without which no home is complete.

  9. “To be delicate”, “to triumph”, “boasting”, “kindness” ….. gimme a break ! And the insertion of “from an Anglophone point of view” is absolutely delicious. It marks the thoughtful self-awareness without which no home is complete.

    I’m sorry, what exactly are you objecting to or denying here? It’s hard to tell behind the scrim of universal irony.

  10. Stu Clayton says:

    So many different meanings for “one word”. Is it “one word”, or many ? Sure, on the example of the etymology of many an English “one word”, it can have various meanings synchronously and diachronously. But the caveat “from an Anglophone point of view” will not be found in those etymologies, I suspect. Perhaps “from a modern point of view” – but a modern point of view is not what one wants from a careful and detailed etymology, no ?

    And the bit about “Homo Persicus” I find particularly trying. Were those old Iranian folks such spiritual wizards that they could leap semantic chasms at a single bound ? Does one fall into ecstasies about “Homo Anglophonus” when studying the OED ?

    As I said, effusions about ineffability similar to those quoted turn up in comment threads here from time to time, and are generally deprecated. Isn’t this another edition of a Gemütlichkeit discussion ? If not, what’s the diff ?

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t doubt that there are a lot of interesting things to puzzle about there. I simply doubt that exaltation is a productive way to puzzle.

  11. This is a Persian person talking about their own language, which they know well and are trying to explain to anglophones. This is not about ineffability — that is something you yourself are imposing. Some words are hard to pin down if they’re not part of your language.

  12. Stu Clayton says:

    The same applies to a Persian person trying to talk in English about their own language Persian. Of course I meant that the Persian person is in thrall to exoticism – about English. English seems exotic(ally inadequate) to him because he can’t find appropriate English words to convey old Persian words. On the rebound, old Persian words seem exotic and wonderful to him.

    So which exoticism of the two will he dwell on ? Not that of English, because the article is written in English and readers will say to themselves “oh, there’s nothing exotic here, he just lacks command of English”. Remains Persian.

  13. So you consider it entirely inappropriate for a Persian to try to explain Persian words to English-speakers? Or are you suggesting that there is a nice, simple one-word equivalent that the author is slyly covering up?

  14. Stu Clayton says:

    So you consider it entirely inappropriate for a Persian to try to explain Persian words to English-speakers?

    Certainly not. But he does spend a lot of time demonstrating how difficult it is. For him, of course, but the article is written to generalize past that difficulty. I am inclined to react with the managerial remark: “I don’t care how you do it, just do it”. He doesn’t just do it, but rather explains how difficult it all is.

    are you suggesting that there is a nice, simple one-word equivalent that the author is slyly covering up?

    How would I know such a thing ? I know not a word of Persian apart from the ineffable sequence of letters under discussion.

  15. That was my assumption, which made me wonder where this magisterial animus was coming from.

  16. Stu Clayton says:

    Magisterial ? A magister worth his (or her!) salt does not like to descend to sarcasm, but crushes with superior knowledge. I only rise to sarcasm from the depths of ignorance. Just because I don’t hem and haw, you think I think I’m magisterial ? That must be due to the restricted variety of sentient beings you associate with. It appears that you have effectively excluded impudent puppies from your circle of acquaintance, so that when one turns up you think he’s biting when he’s merely barking with panache.

  17. *hands Stu a treat*

  18. Stu Clayton says:

    ناز woof ! [delicately boastful bark]

  19. John Cowan says:

    Persian words probably known to Stu: baksheesh, bazaar, beige, carafe, caviar, check/chess, cinnabar, dervish, divan, Hindu, India, Iran, jackal, julep, kabob/kebab, kaftan/caftan, khaki, lemon, lilac, magi/magic, manticore, mogul, pajama, paradise, Persia, pilaf, pistachio, rook (chess), satrap, scarlet, scimitar, seersucker, serendip(ity), shah, sitar, spinach, taffeta, tamborine, tapestry, tiara, tiger, toxin, tulip, turban, typhoon, zircon. Some of these are direct, some filtered through Hindi, some through Arabic and Greek, some through Greek alone (and then often enough Latin and French).

  20. Stu Clayton says:

    I still don’t know a word of Persian, only the results of Persian words transmogrified into English. That’s the “equals goes it loose” level of competence.

    But them’s very nice words. You’ve omitted only that fabulous mixture of slightly salted seeds, nuts and dried Berberitze berries. I’ve forgotten the name.

    What is etymology without snacks ?

  21. Stu Clayton says:

    Here it’s just called Persische Mischung, but there’s a Persian word for it. There used to be many little Persian shops around Cologne, the ones near me have now closed. The Turks are taking over everything, forcing one to select from two dozen types of divine cookie, which are put in little boxes that you take home.

    I used to talk with the older Homines Persici who ran those shops. Some of them had subsidies from the Iranian government via the embassies, and were required in turn to keep in stock books in Persian that nobody could read. Some were afraid of this influence (not because of the books).

    The most well-spoken, educated and interesting taxi drivers I have been driven by are Persian. Most taxi drivers in Cologne are Turkish.

  22. Well, obviously if you take several centuries of one language and add several centuries of active borrowing from that language to all nearby languages and then multiply by not only direct meaning, but also connotations, you get a nice beehive of meanings. The interesting thing is not the abstract construct, but the fact that Persian nāz happened to be such a word and how those meanings transmorphed. Sometimes a story is just a story, no moral is necessary. Having said that, it seems that the bulk of the meanings is covered by “courtly manners”.

    Also, for a Russian speaker Homo Persicus is just hilarious. персик [persik] = peach = Prunus persica.

  23. Stu Clayton says:

    “courtly manners”

    The DWDS, on an außergermanisch excursion into the background of Nase, comes within shouting distance of “naz”. Those who hold their head high, and thus their nose, can be said to have courtly manners. You don’t suppose …

    Außergerm. vergleichen sich aind. nas- ‘Nase’, Dual (hinsichtlich der zwei Nasenlöcher) nā́sā, lat. nāris (aus *nāsis) ‘Nüster, Nasenloch, Nase’, nāsum, nāsus ‘Nase’, lit. nósis, aslaw. nosъ, russ. nos (нос) ‘Nase’, so daß sich ie. *nas- bzw. der dehnstufige Nominativ Sing. (des zunächst konsonantischen Stammes) ie. *nās ‘Nase’, ursprünglich wohl ‘Nasenloch’, ansetzen läßt.

  24. AJP Crown says:

    Maulbeeren -unbehandelt
    I can just see the Persian mulberry trees. Wonderful.

  25. Stu Clayton says:

    Our walk to grade school in El Paso, more than 60 years ago, led past a mulberry tree that gave us of its berries. I only just now remembered that. Do mulberry trees not take umbrage at dry conditions, but only give it (Schatten spenden) ?

  26. AJP Crown says:

    All I know is that there was an enormous one with huge berries at my uncle’s in Australia where it was usually very dry, probably like Texas.

  27. ktschwarz says:

    I get the feeling the blogger assumes his readers are already familiar with Persian and know the word. He doesn’t write like he’s introducing the word to foreigners, rather he’s exploring its history and its boundaries. On being told that nāz is “a social code…”, I was expecting some illustrations, such as dialogues or stories: what exactly had the woman done when her suitor sings “God gives you your nāz, oh you Nāz-ful One”? That’s what a foreigner (or a child) would need when learning a new word. But instead, I think the blogger is trying for something more like this post on Risky Etymology: you couldn’t learn what “risk” means from reading that if you didn’t already know it.

    Some of the other posts on the blog are more Anglophone-accessible, e.g. kayf:

    As one of the first words taught to a learner of Arabic, the meaning of کیف/kayf seems apparent and simple: it is an interrogative adverb that translates as ‘how’ in English.

    The word, however, has a different meaning in the Persianate world. There, the adverb turns into a noun that denotes ‘mood’ – not just any mood, but a good mood, merriment, and pleasure. …

  28. John Cowan says:

    I should have written Persianate words, obviously.

    Persische Mischung

    The berries are barberries in English, but I don’t know any name for the mixture. Barberry is also the name of the bush. It grew as a fence/hedge around my childhood home, but I was told not to eat the berries (I don’t know why).

    Prunus persica

    The story is persica > *pessica > Old French persche > French pêche, English peach, but the connection is no longer felt in English.

    a mulberry tree that gave us of its berries

    Mulberries are amazing. The only difficulty is that they don’t ship; you basically have to eat them off the tree. In another of my childhood homes, there was a huge sweet cherry tree (Prunus avium) that bore very little and couldn’t be climbed, a sour cherry tree (P. cerasus, originally P. avium x fruticosa) that could be climbed and eaten from, and a red mulberry tree. Sour cherries are still sweet, they are just more tart. Birds will eat mulberries preferentially, so they are often planted near other fruit trees.

  29. J.W. Brewer says:

    I don’t think of “Persianate” as an adjective found in English outside a specialized academic register, but then there’s the possibly even rarer “Persicate” (example: “One takes an old city, like Herat, a famous center of medieval Persicate culture, laid out in classical symmetry, with four bazaars joining in an ornate covered souq”), likewise belonging to that sort of specialized academic register. Are they synonyms? Or do they have subtly different nuances of meaning? Synonyms in semantic scope but signalling different factional positions on disputes within the field that might seem hopelessly obscure to outsiders? Something else?

  30. Kayf has also found its way into Mongolian, although I’m not sure of the route.

  31. Is naz via Turkish the derivation of the inconvenient but not uncommon Albanian surname of Nazi ?

  32. John Cowan says:

    I examined the literal handful of documents that contain both Persicate and Persianate and some that include only one. The only differences I see is that the first can be verbed (‘to change into something Persicate’) and is perhaps 1% as common.

  33. You’ve omitted only that fabulous mixture of slightly salted seeds, nuts and dried Berberitze berries. I’ve forgotten the name.

    In Persian it’s called آجیل ājīl.

    “Persianate” was coined by Marshall Hodgson along the lines of his other neologism, “Islamicate” (itself modeled on “Italianate”), referring to cultures, societies, and so on that have been historically influenced by Persian, or have used Persian as a lingua franca, without necessarily being ethnically Persian/speaking Persian as a first language. I’ve never encountered “Persicate” before.

    As for the problem of translating nāz, the issue, like with so many other words that are difficult to succinctly translate, is that it refers to a cultural practice without an equivalent in most Anglophone cultures. Chinese and some other East Asian languages have 撒娇 sa jiao, which, while certainly different than nāz, to me is nevertheless broadly analogous in a way that nothing I can think of in the Western cultures I’m familiar with is.

  34. Stu Clayton says:

    # What’s more, some young Chinese women infantilise themselves, often with the aid of plastic surgery, to imitate the big-eyed heroines of Japanese cartoons. The aesthetic is popular with older men, who are aroused not just by the fragile look, but by affected sa jiao, ‘cute whining’, done in the fashion of a demanding child. In their private pictures, the girls look all of 14, while the men play alongside them in childish games or make faces at the camera.#

    https://aeon.co/essays/why-do-young-rural-women-in-china-become-mistresses

    Scatter-brain foxtrot

  35. In Bulgarian it also has a bit of a negative connotation, but not quite like in Greek, and it’s a direct loan from Ottoman Turkish. It’s more like “procrastination” (for something nice).

    Назлъндисвам се. — I am in the state of nazlı, for example.

  36. I just talked to my parents, they think the word has actual positive connotations. It’s just when I was назлъндисвах personally that it has a bad connotation. Imagine that. My parents are not the greatest linguists in the world “that they now nothing about linguistics”, but thay got the joke. Well, my mom did.

  37. Lars Mathiesen says:

    D Pfirsich, Da fersken, Sw persika, E peach, F pêche, R персик. Funny how many forms a loan word can take. (English through French as JC said, Danish influenced by the German plural it seems).

  38. David Marjanović says:

    No, because the plural is Pfirsiche. Somehow the word has ended up masculine – maybe prunus was still around to confuse people.

  39. PlasticPaddy says:

    @dm
    From DWDS:
    “…entlehnt im Zuge der Bekanntschaft der Germanen mit der römischen Obstkultur aus vlat. persicus m. bzw. persica f. ‘Pfirsich’ (gegenüber lat. Persicus bzw. arbor Persica ‘Pfirsichbaum’, mala Persica, Persicum bzw. mālum Persicum ‘Pfirsich’). ”
    So the confusion over sex was already in Latin before the borrowing.

  40. Lars Mathiesen says:

    Pfirsiche — yes, now, in the Standard. Danish stole most stuff from northern Germans and long ago, I don’t know where to look up what the plural was in Hamburg or Lübeck 200+ years ago. It’s what the big Danish dictionary says.

  41. Catalan préssec is also masculine.

  42. “…entlehnt im Zuge der Bekanntschaft der Germanen mit der römischen Obstkultur aus vlat. persicus m. bzw. persica f. ‘Pfirsich’ (gegenüber lat. Persicus bzw. arbor Persica ‘Pfirsichbaum’, mala Persica, Persicum bzw. mālum Persicum ‘Pfirsich’). ”

    Three beziehungsweises in one sentence — impressive!

  43. BTW, totally off topic, but mulberry vodka (tutovka) is very popular in Armenia and Azerbaidjan. I only mention it because we previously had a lively discussion about various fruit brandies in the Balkans.

  44. Stu Clayton says:

    The use of “bzw”, abbreviated or written out, is a horrible and tacky practice that sins far beyond what normal peevery is equipped to deal with. I mean, outside of etymologist-speak. Like bräuchte for the subjunctive of brauchen, it’s here to stay.

  45. This is a case for… Superpeever!

  46. David Eddyshaw says:

    I like “bzw” and have often wished there was a handy English equivalent.
    So there.

    I suppose there’s “resp”, but that could mean anything, and it goes in the wrong place anyway.

  47. Stu Clayton says:

    Unfortunately for so there, “resp” functions exactly as “bzw” does. It could mean anything, and goes in the wrong direction (if not place). Some smart-ass German writers even use “resp”, hoping thus to escape contumely. beziehungsweise just means “respectively”, insofar as one can appeal here to meaning. “bzw” is most often used in business as an abbreviated form of “Oops, what I meant to say was …”

    Dieser Code ist Scheiße bzw. verbesserungsbedürftig.

  48. Superpeever

    Did you mean Überpeever?

  49. PlasticPaddy says:

    @stu
    I am not sure the ironic sense of bzw is the sense used most often in business. There may be as many as ten honest strivers for every sneering Übermensch, although the latter seem to have more fun☺.

  50. January First-of-May says:

    It’s easy to let abbreviations from your native language (“p. ex.”, for example) slip through untranslated. “Resp.” (or, worse, “BZW”) is a particular giveaway: English doesn’t have a generally recognised abbreviation for “respectively”, because we hardly ever use the word. Most of the time the best idiomatic translation is either “or” or nothing.

    (Justin B. Rye, English for Software Localisation)

  51. David Marjanović says:

    Three beziehungsweises in one sentence — impressive!

    Altogether unremarkable. We almost talk like that.

  52. Persian words probably known

    Baksheesh, seersucker and taffeta were new to me even as English terms.

    Wiktionary alleges a large amount of others, with some non-obvious cases including borax, cummerbund, kiosk, and switching from loanwords into phraseology, the adage this too shall pass.

  53. @J Pystynen: A number of the suggested “Persian” words may not be:

    beige: This is from French, with prior etymology apparently unknown.

    caviar: The OED notes that this word exists in Turkish, although Persian is not mentioned. Moreover, there is no reason to think that the Italian form is derived from the Turkish; both may be from a third, unknown source. (“‘It has no root in Turkish, and has not the look of a Turkish word. Redhouse in his MS. Thesaurus marks it as Italian-Turkish, looking upon it as borrowed from Italian.’ Prof. C. Rieu.”)

    cummerbund: The OED just says “Urdu and Persian kamar-band,” without specifying in which of those two languages it actually originated. I have seen other sources attribute it specifically to Hindi/Urdu (my high school German teacher was surprised it was not German, I clearly recall); however, given the OED‘s lack of specificity, I presume the question has not been definitively solved.

    mogul: Of course, this passed through Persian, but before that it obviously comes from the Mongolian endonym.

    spinach: The OED suggests that the cognates in Arabic and Persian are likely borrowings into those languages, not from them.

    tapestry: Tapis goes back to Greek, where it appears to come from a well-formed diminutive.

    tiara: This is traceable to Ionic Greek, where it referred to a particularly Persian style of headgear. The etymology, however, is unknown.

    tiger: The OED has nothing to say about its pre-Greek etymology except: “a foreign word, evidently oriental, introduced when the beast became known.
    (Some have conjectured connection with Avestan tīghri arrow, tighra sharp, pointed, in reference to the celerity of its spring; but no application of either word, or any derivative, to the tiger is known in Avestan.)”

    toxin: The OED traces this to Greek, where the etymon had the meaning: “of or pertaining to the bow.”

  54. Stu Clayton says:

    Avestan tīghri arrow, tighra sharp, pointed, in reference to the celerity of its spring

    A little tiger’s still a dangerous thing;
    Breathe deep, then flee its celeritous spring.

  55. Lars Mathiesen says:

    bzw — Danish has hhv. (for henholdsvis) as one of the abbreviations that need no explication. It’s pretty much equivalent to the ‘respectively’ uses of the German term, and I assume it’s a loan translation. (That is, ‘xor, as applicable’ — not ‘more precisely’ or plain or, both of which were surprising to me).

  56. Stu Clayton says:

    not ‘more precisely’ or plain or, both of which were surprising to me

    As I indicated, it’s a blob of semantic abomination and tackiness.

  57. David Marjanović says:

    my high school German teacher was surprised it was not German, I clearly recall

    That’s because there it happens to have a nonsensical meaning if given a spelling-pronunciation: Kummer “sorrow”, Bund… well, “association”, but the connection to “bind” remains obvious and makes sense for a belt.

    ‘more precisely’

    I don’t think this meaning really exists; it probably emerges from people using it to cover up their mistakes (like Trump saying and when he notices he has misspoken).

  58. Lars Mathiesen says:

    DM, please hand in your descriptivist union card.

  59. Stu Clayton says:

    it probably emerges from people using it to cover up their mistakes

    That is an accurate description of how Germans use bzw in speaking. If that doesn’t characterize the “meaning” of bzw, the very notion of meaning needs a good overhaul. Ryle, Austin and Co. were srsly right about a lot of things. Some accused them of behaviorism, but that’s because behaviorism was the only blame in town back then, or at least a prominent one. Folks were all in a frazzle about Skinner, and Quine was nipping at their heels.

  60. David Marjanović says:

    I don’t think this meaning really exists

    I mean nobody aims at conveying this. It’s just sometimes used as a cover-up, a lie, just as more precisely sometimes is in English.

    What definitely exists in speakers’ heads, though, is the meaning “or rather”. It is used to correct other people’s errors & imprecisions as well as one’s own.

  61. Stu Clayton says:

    Whatever may exist in the speakers’ heads, an observant observer (such as myself) finds that this use of bzw has the effect of a carriage return, overtyping without Tippex and then typing right along without missing a beat. It fools nobody who is on the alert, but is allowed to pass.

    As I wrote:

    # “bzw” is most often used in business as an abbreviated form of “Oops, what I meant to say was …” #

    without the auto-discomfort caused by a grown man (or woman!) saying “Oops” in a presentation to top management.

  62. David Eddyshaw says:

    behaviorism

    One of my favourite Morgenbesserisms is his alleged remark to Skinner:

    “So you feel we shouldn’t anthropomorphise … people?”

  63. Stu Clayton says:

    Ah yes. Heute gut, Morgenbesser.

  64. John Cowan says:

    I didn’t insist when making my Persianate-word list that all of them were native Persian terms, just that they had spent some time in Persian before wandering to English.

    The etymologies of OED2 entries are not to be trusted. Despite its crowdsourced nature, Wiktionary is much more reliable. I am not quoting Wikt exactly, because I have reformatted their entries to standard form.

    beige: This is from French, with prior etymology apparently unknown.

    It means ‘color of unbleached wool’, and Wikt attributes it to L bysseus ‘cotton-gray’ < byssus ‘cotton’ < G < Semitic (cf. Heb בוץ‎ būṣ ‘mud’).

    caviar: The OED[2] notes that this word exists in Turkish, although Persian is not mentioned

    Wikt says: “< Persian خاویار‎ xâvyâr ‘id.’ < خایه‎ xâye ‘egg’ (cf. egg)

    cummerbund: The OED just says “Urdu and Persian kamar-band,” without specifying in which of those two languages it actually originated.

    Wikt says Hindi/Urdu < Persian, and in fact PIE: کمر‎ kamar ‘waist’ < *kh₂em- ‘wind, curve’ (v)., cf. καμπή ‘flexion point’, L camur ‘curved, bent, crooked. As for -bund, + بند‎ band ‘band’, it is obviously cognate with the English quintuplet band, bend, bind, bond, bund, ultimately all < *bʰendʰ-.

    mogul: Of course, this passed through Persian, but before that it obviously comes from the Mongolian endonym.

    True, O King, live for ever!

    spinach: The OED suggests that the cognates in Arabic and Persian are likely borrowings into those languages, not from them.

    Wikt gives cognate forms all over the Iranian languages < OI spināka-, *spinaka-, so I doubt that. The PIE root is *spey-, cf. L spina ‘thorn’.

    tapestry: Tapis goes back to Greek, where it appears to come from a well-formed diminutive.

    Wikt says: “The origin is uncertain. Traditionally < Iranian (cf. Persian تافتن‎ tâftan, تابیدن‎ tâbidan ‘twist, turn, spin’ (v), but Beekes argues for a Pre-Greek origin.” So this remains open.

    tiara: This is traceable to Ionic Greek, where it referred to a particularly Persian style of headgear. The etymology, however, is unknown.

    Concedo.

    tiger: The OED: […] (Some have conjectured connection with Avestan tīghri ‘arrow’, tighra ‘sharp, pointed, in reference to the celerity of its spring; but no application of either word, or any derivative, to the tiger is known in Avestan.)”

    I don’t think it can be a coincidence that the Tigris river is < OP id. < Elamite id., where it is a loan translation from Sumerian 𒀀𒇉𒈦𒄘𒃼 Idigna, Idigina ‘fast as an arrow’.

    toxin: The OED traces this to Greek, where the etymon had the meaning: “of or pertaining to the bow.”

    Right, elliptically for τοξικόν φάρμακον ‘arrow poison’. But that in turn, says Wikt, is < Persian تخش‎ taxš ‘crossbow’. The ‘poison’ sense may also give us L taxus ‘yew’, all parts of which are very poisonous.

  65. David Marjanović says:

    Wikt says: “< Persian خاویار‎ xâvyâr ‘id.’ < خایه‎ xâye ‘egg’ (cf. egg)

    …That’s *h₂ staring us in the face right there.

Speak Your Mind

*